Women’s basketball claims title in closely fought win against WVU
By Annie Bardet
April 4, 2015 2:45 p.m.
UCLA’s season ended Saturday afternoon.
It wasn’t that the Bruins were knocked out of tournament play – they simply couldn’t advance any farther.
Leaving the Charleston Civic Center with a National Invitation Tournament championship win over West Virginia allowed the Bruins to cap off a perfect tournament run with six straight wins and finish the season with a winning record of 19-18.
The final score of 62-60 was a direct reflection of how evenly matched the title game was between the Mountaineers and Bruins.
The first period was a back-and-forth battle, as both UCLA and WVU struggled to create any advantageous runs, with both teams shooting 32 percent from the field. The Bruins headed into halftime with a 30-28 advantage after a buzzer beater layup by freshman guard Jordin Canada.
Canada, the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, finished the game with 31 points, tallying exactly half of the Bruins total points and contributing from the line with 13 free throws.
Foul trouble was a major detriment to UCLA as junior guard Nirra Fields’ foul total climbed to four with over 13 minutes left in play, limiting her play in the second period and forcing the Bruins to adapt without her on the court.
Senior forward/center Corinne Costa finished with six points and six blocks, ending her career with 4:31 left to play after fouling out.
Fields, who usually serves as a consistent high scorer for the Bruins, was 0-9 from the field. Her only two points of the game came from the free throw line.
Redshirt sophomore guard Kari Korver was also quiet in the first period, only tallying two points and missing three shots from beyond the arc. Her first 3-pointer of the game came at a critical moment when the Bruins needed it, helping tie the score at 53 with 4:19 left in the game.
A Kelli Hayes steal with 3:21 remaining led to a coast to coast bucket, putting UCLA up by four.
After a pair of WVU free throws, a rebounding battle and episodes of cold shooting on both sides of the ball ensued with less than two minutes left to play.
At the 44 second mark the Mountaineers applied foul court pressure in an attempt to stop the Bruins from extending their lead any further, but a reverse layup and an immediate steal by Canada pushed the Bruin lead to five points.
Despite a last-chance 3-pointer by WVU, the largely Mountaineer crowd fell silent as they watched the final seconds expire.
After 10 total lead changes and a come-from-behind win, UCLA left the tournament with its first national level championship trophy, and also its first title since the 2006 Pac-12 championship.
Compiled by Annie Bardet, Bruin Sports contributor.